The Plaster Model for the Statue of Freedom
The bronze Statue of Freedom atop the United States Capitol dome was cast from the sections of this plaster model. Beginning in 1855, American sculptor Thomas Crawford designed the statue and created the model in his Roman studio. After he died in 1857, his widow sent the model in six crates from Italy. The crates finally reached Washington in early 1859, and in 1860-1861 the statue was cast in bronze.
The plaster model remained at the Capitol until 1890, when it was transferred to the Smithsonian Institution. It was on view in the Arts and Industries Building until 1967 and then stored in pieces until 1992, when it was restored and displayed in the basement rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building. In late 2008 the model was relocated to the new Capitol Visitor Center, where it is now a focal point of Emancipation Hall.